By: StreetsDept, Conrad Benner
On Friday, October 13, over 100 volunteers came together to help transform a section of an abandoned railway in Philadelphia into what will soon be an incredible new public green space for all to enjoy!
As a part of their Urban Greening initiative, Timberland organized a volunteer day in partnership with the Center City District Foundation, and I was truly elated to be invited to participate. I was excited because, like many Philadelphians, I’ve been waiting for this park to become a reality for many years. As a photographer and the Founder of StreetsDept.com, a photo-blog that discovers and celebrates art on the streets of Philadelphia, I have explored many abandoned spaces in search of graffiti and good views. And the Viaduct (as the entire structure was broadly referred to), has always been one of my favorites.
The idea to turn Center City’s unused rail lines – three miles in total – into a park was born roughly 14 years ago. And finally, the time has come. The volunteer day focused on Phase 1; 25,000 square feet of railway stretching from Broad Street to 13th Street. The event created an opportunity to invite Timberland’s partners and members of the community to lend a hand in building the park. Together, we laid 65 yards of dirt, transported hundreds of pavers, planted over 800 shrubs and even a couple of trees. For me, it was surreal to see a space so many have hoped for start to spring to life right before my eyes.
I’ve been writing about how much I couldn’t wait for this to become a public space since 2013. A space that could offer every Philadelphian stunning views, a peaceful green getaway floating above the traffic, and of course, hopefully the graffiti that helped make it so iconic in the first place – ideally working with Philly graffiti writers and street artists to create more art along the rail. But that’s talk for future Phases II and III, where most of the graffiti lives!
All that said, I’m so grateful to Timberland for inviting me to partner with them to highlight this day, and absolutely pumped to visit the park again when it opens in early 2018!
Want to learn more about Timberland’s role in greening the Philadelphia Rail Park? Get more information about the project here.